A Party for Penny

By Vonda Gates

6 June 2018 was a day to party with Penny Simkin. There was much to celebrate: 30 years of training doulas, 50 years of teaching childbirth classes, 60 years of marriage, and 80 years of life. The day of teaching included Simkin family musicians, insightful speakers, friends and peers, Penny’s favorite candy at every table, and birthday cake. As the sun set, many of us joined Penny and her family for a glittery gala at the Seattle Aquarium.

There are few individuals in the professional birth field who have made as much a global impact as this one gentle champion. A physical therapist by training, Penny’s keen observations have translated into actions that have made a difference one birth and one family at a time and launched the career path of doula.

There were common themes among those who gathered to party with Penny. Her family rejoiced in her mothering gifts, her students celebrated her teaching skills, and peers marked the many milestones she has accomplished. But all testified to her gentle style of coming alongside any challenge and persistently seeking a path of climbing together toward a worthy goal. Penny exemplifies the doula traits she teaches; the quiet but persistent skills of acceptance, understanding, encouragement, and sharing strength for the journey.

So, we partied with Penny. There was plenty of Penny songs, Penny stories, and Penny love. Please Penny, let’s not stop partying with you!

Mentor Program Announced

We know that completing a certification program and diving into the world of family-centered maternity care can be intimidating. That’s why we’re excited to announce the newest ICEA benefit, our Mentor Program!

If you have a passion for supporting others, or if you need a little guidance on your journey to becoming a Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula, or Postpartum Doula, then there is a space for you! Please read below or visit our website for further information. Or, feel free to email info@icea.org with any questions!

Mentors will work with individuals who have joined ICEA and are working through the certification process. They will help guide and assist the individuals by offering encouragement, suggestions, and direct one on one attention throughout the process.

A mentor will be expected to:

  • Check their email at least three times per week and respond within 48 hrs to all messages received from those they are mentoring.
  • Connect with each person they are mentoring at least once per month to see how that person is progressing. The mentor is expected to offer guidance, encouragement and be that direct link that a new doula or educator may need.
  • Keep accurate records of all interactions with the individual(s) they are mentoring and report those interactions to the ICEA mentorship representative within the last week of each month using the online form provided.
  • Direct any questions they do not know how to answer to the appropriate ICEA staff or mentorship program representative.

To view the requirements for individuals interested in becoming a mentor, please visit our website.

We hope you will consider becoming a mentor. Your knowledge and expertise is needed!

Learn More

ICEA offers free experienced mentors to individuals who have joined the certification program and are working through the training and certification process. 

Mentors will be available via email to answer questions, offer guidance and be that direct link between the certification candidate and ICEA. Plus, they will check in with each candidate at least once per month to help keep the candidate motivated, encouraged, and on the path to being certified.

Join the program to receive support on your certification journey!

Get Involved

What Pregnant Families Really Need to Know to Get Breastfeeding Started Off Right

by Donna Walls, RN, ICCE, IBCLC

Most prenatal classes tend to focus on “information” about breastfeeding like how it works or lists of all the things that can go wrong. So, whether we are teaching formal classes, having informal conversations in support groups or just talking to friends and family there are just a few points to cover to help new mothers be successful in the first days of breastfeeding.

First, make sure skin to skin is a priority for the first hours after birth. When newborns are skin to skin they stay warmer, cry less and can self-attach for the first feeding (skin to skin is beneficial for breast and formula fed newborns!).

Second, keep moms and babies together. New maternal hormones are flooding the mother, hormones that encourage protection and nurturing of the newborn. Keeping mothers together with her newborn allows her to learn her infant’s cues when they are hungry, need to be held or maybe need some calming and comfort. Mistakenly, hospitals believe housing newborns in the nursery will allow the mother to rest. Research demonstrates that mothers actually get more and a better quality of sleep when their infants are close and continue to nurse through the night. For those nursing mothers research shows it is important to breastfeed frequently in the first hours and days to establish and build milk supply.

Third, feed when the baby is ready- not on an arbitrary schedule. Newborns often feed on an irregular schedule, responding to hunger or thirst. The goal in the first days is to feed a minimum of 8 times, preferably 10-12 times. Myths persist that newborns are sleepy in the first 24-28 hours and are not interested in feeding when just the opposite is true. Keeping the newborn close, preferably skin to skin, encourages frequent feeding when the baby smells the milk and stimulates their appetite. When the infant is close the mother she can learn their cues, small body movements, rooting or hand to mouth activity.

Fourth, assure a correct, effective and comfortable latch. For a comfortable, effective latch the infant needs to latch with a wide-open mouth, far back on the breast. Human infants do not “nipple feed” (which is why moms DO NOT need the “perfect” nipple to feed her baby!} but rather form a teat with the nipple and breast tissue. Mothers should feel a tugging, pulling sensation that only happens when the nipple is farther back in the top half of the infant mouth. If breastfeeding hurts mothers should be encouraged to ask for help, especially in the hospital or birth center before going home.

We need to present breastfeeding education and information in a simple, “easy to do” format. Most pregnant women have not had the opportunity to see mothers breastfeeding, to learn by watching.   Breastfeeding is often presented as foreign, hard to do and uncomfortable. So, in order to make breastfeeding the norm, we need to talk to women about their concerns and offer evidence-based, practical information to build their confidence and help them be successful in breastfeeding their newborn.

References and Resources
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/breastfeeding/
American Academy of Pediatrics  AAP Policy on Breastfeeding and Human Milk   http://www.aap.org
CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions: Maternity Care Practiceshttp://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/resources/guide.htm
Bartick, M, et al (2017) Suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: Maternal and pediatric health outcomes and costs. Maternal & Child Nutrition, Vol 13, Issue 1, DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12366
Stuebe AM. Enabling women to achieve their breastfeeding goals. Obstet Gynecol 2014;123:643–52
Cell Press. “How a beneficial gut microbe adapted to breast milk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170406121515.html>.
Cadwell, K  and Turner-Maffei, C. The Pocket Guide for Lactation Management. 2017. Jones and Bartlett. Burlington, MA.
Patnode CD, Henninger ML, Senger CA, Perdue LA, Whitlock EP. 2016 Oct. Primary Care Interventions to Support Breastfeeding: Updated Systematic Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Help ICEA Flourish: Join a Committee


Would you like to help others all over the world support family-centered maternity and newborn care? Do you have a few hours a month to volunteer for your profession? Then join one of the newly formed ICEA committees! We need your support and expertise to spread ICEA’s vision and mission across the globe.

The ICEA Board of Directors has focused their strategic initiatives in three broad categories and to create committee focus areas:

We’re looking for volunteers who are innovative, decisive, detail-oriented, precise, progressive, and/or strategic.

We’re looking for volunteers who are a marketing wiz, strategic, unbiased, perceptive, passionate, and/or multi-lingual.

We’re looking for volunteers who are responsible, collaborative, tech-savvy, precise, and/or detail-oriented.

Each of these three committee focus areas will receive a scope of work with projects and tasks relevant to the Association’s growth in that area. Over the next year, the Association plans to expand these three general committee focus areas into approximately 10 specific committees, subcommittees, and task forces. You can learn more about the focus areas on our website or apply now!

We are very excited about this new initiative, and we can’t wait for you to be a part of it!

Learn More

Time is running out to submit your board nominations! All nominations are due by 5:00 PM ET on 11 June. Submit your form today, and let your voice be heard!

ICEA is currently seeking volunteers for the following positions on the Board of Directors:

  • President-Elect
  • Treasurer
  • Director of Lactation
  • Director of Public Policy and Communications
  • Director of Marketing
  • Director at Large

Nomination forms for the board of directors is due by 11 June 2018. If you have any questions about these positions, please email info@icea.org.

Apply Now

News Regarding ANCC Accreditation

Earn CNE credits through ICEA’s education!

The ICEA Board has worked hard to make certain all of our workshops and conferences bring you value. To continue these efforts, we are very excited to bring you the following news:

International Childbirth Education Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Commission on Accreditation.

ANCC recognizes organizations which demonstrate excellence in the ability to deliver continuing nursing education (CNE) with Primary Accreditation. We are excited to be a part of their Primary Accreditation Program because it contributes to improving healthcare outcomes. To learn more about ANCC, please visit their website.

What does this mean for you?

To sum it up, continuing nursing education (CNE) will now be awarded with every ICEA workshop and conference. The number of CNE credits will vary for each event, and the number of credits awarded will be noted with event registration. CNE credits can be used towards American Nursing Association certification or recertification.

If you have any questions about ICEA becoming an accredited CNE provider with ANCC, please email info@icea.org.

Learn More

ANCC accreditation requires renewal every two years. To oversee this extensive process, ICEA is seeking a Registered Nurse with a Masters or higher level education to be the ANCC Lead Nurse Planner. Experience with ANCC is preferred. This is a part-time, salaried position.

Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Orienting nurse planners
  • Providing direction and guidance to individuals planning
  • Coordinating and evaluating CNE activities
  • Participating in the ANCC CNE Committee
  • Ensuring all programs approved meet the ANCC standards
  • Communicating with ANCC

Learn More

Your Credential Has Been Updated


To better serve you, and to set an industry standard that will demonstrate the hard work you have accomplished in becoming certified with ICEA, we have updated your credentials!

We are setting an industry standard so clients, employers, and colleagues are able to easily recognize your dedication to family-centered maternity care.


Common credentials used for Childbirth Educator in the past include: CBE, CCE, CCBE, and PCBE. Moving forward, the official credential for a Childbirth Educator certified with ICEA is ICCE (ICEA Certified Childbirth Educator).


In the past, credentials that have been used to note a person is certified with ICEA as a Birth Doula include CD and ICD. Now, the industry standard is ICBD (ICEA Certified Birth Doula).


Previously, ICEA certified Postpartum Doulas have used credentials such as CPD and CPPD. Officially, the credential for Postpartum Doulas is now ICPD (ICEA Certified Postpartum Doula).

Please use ICCE, ICBD, and/or ICPD on all resumes, CVs, websites, email signatures, or anywhere you want to showcase your commitment to ICEA, our mission, and your efforts to create a nurtured world through professionals trained in family-centered maternity and newborn care.

If you’re uncomfortable with the change, then you can continue to use an old credential. However, please note the credentials listed above are the new official industry standard, and this what ICEA will use moving forward.

We encourage you to send an email to info@icea.org or call +1.919.674.4183 if you have any questions about this change.

ICEA Board Nominations Open

Do you have a few hours a month to volunteer for your profession? Would you like to help others all over the world support family-centered maternity and newborn care? Do you enjoy the camaraderie of working together with a great team, developing new skills, and promoting freedom of decision making based on knowledge of alternatives?

If you answered yes to these questions, then consider joining the ICEA Board of Directors!

ICEA is currently seeking volunteers for the following positions on the Board of Directors:

  • President-Elect
  • Treasurer
  • Director of Lactation
  • Director of Public Policy and Communications
  • Director of Marketing
  • Director at Large

Nomination forms for board of director and committee positions are due by 11 June 2018. Please visit our website for more information and to fill out a form. If you have any questions about these positions, please email info@icea.org.